What every club needs is a run-of-the-mill millionaire

I have made the same silly mistake, as I do every new year, which explains why I am sitting here screaming at my 1999 diary. I bought the same one as last year, sort of long and thin, fits snugly in my inside pocket. It has a plastic cover, which means I can slip into the end folder my basic address book and save myself the trouble of writing out the same old basic addresses every year.

But what I had forgotten is that whoever makes these diaries, Art No 3090 it says at the end, whatever that means, has decided Sunday is a non-day. Sunday doesn't matter.Who needs to bother with Sundays? So they only give a third of the space for Sundays.

I can see the problem.There are seven days in a week so if you give two pages to each week,as this diary does,it is hard to spread them out evenly.If only there were ten days a week, it would be so much easier to divide them.And if each month had the same number of days,that would also help. And as for 365 days in a year, now that's really loopy.Who thought up all this nonsense?

Given this mess, why pick on Sundays? It means I have to draw a line through the bottom part of Saturday,to give Sunday a bit more bulk, a bit more space. That then buggers up the whole weekend, making it look very cramped, not to say scruffy. Looking back at my 1998 diary, I see I drew a line at the bottom of every Saturday. And not very neatly.

There are two reasons why the diary maker is so out of touch, so behind the times in victimising Sundays. Millions of us now work from home, making our own routines and rituals, so Saturdays and Sundays are just as likely to be working days as any other day. We therefore need equal space to write down details of our exciting lives. Got up, got out of bed, dragged a comb through my head. I made that up. No one uses a comb these days.

Second, football fans needs lashings of space for both Saturdays and Sundays. Millions of us go to a match on a Saturday, in the flesh, or similar, then watch a match on a Sunday on Sky Sport. If not two matches. Perhaps even three. How are we going to record all the vital details for posterity if the diary makers don't give us enough space, huh?

I like to write in the score every Saturday. Pointless, I know. All scores get recorded, then these days analysed for ever and ever. There is no need for me to put it in my diary as it if were a personal or exclusive piece of information. But putting it in my diary means I was there. That's how I know, when I look back, when I'm really, really old. I also add a few pithy observations, as I did last Saturday. "Spurs 5, Watford 2. Sinton a plonker, Ian Walker hopeless again." That sort of pith. Well worth recording.

When I watch a match on TV, I add the letters "TV", to show that I wasn't actually there, in the flesh. Last weekend I wrote: "Rushden 0, Leeds 0. I want to be Max Griggs when I grow up."

In years to come,or even months to come, I won't know what the hell Rushden was or who was Max Griggs. But I can see him now, in his little pully, being interviewed after the game, a run-of-the-mill millionaire, un-pushy,un-flash, just someone who happens to have done jolly well in life, building up the Doc Martens empire. What fun to have put his spare change into buying his local little non-league club and creating that absolutely brilliant stadium. And how satisfying to see the stadium full and his little club so successful.

When I get depressed,and I do, friends, about the future of football, with the haves galloping away leaving the have-nots miles behind, I will think about Max Griggs.

The new money flooding into football, from Murdoch or from Sky, is going all one way - to those who already have it. The result is that the average Premiership player can now demand a million a year. Steve McManaman, so it has been reported, will get over £5 million a year if he goes to Chelsea or abroad next season. The report said £110,000 a week, which I read as a misprint, how could it be that much, some mistake surely, but if it's not quite right now, it will be, any moment.

How can this mad spiral be stopped? It can't, as long as we daft fans are prepared to pay more and more for season tickets, which we are, judging by the waiting lists, and TV companies are prepared to pay more and more for every new contract to show matches, knowing we daft fans will want to watch. So, it's all our fault.

In theory, then, it is in our hands,to stop this madness - by not going, not watching. But that won't happen. Our football authorities could sort it out, but that won't happen either, as they can't sort themselves out. Which leaves the government. They could create Offoot - the Office of Football, with legal powers to limit excess and try to create fairness in football. If there are bodies to regulate the National Lottery, gas and electricity, to stop overpricing and abuse of monopolies,why not in football? Fat chance.

Max Griggs, in his own little way, is trying to reverse the trend for only the big clubs to get bigger and richer. And he's done it sensibly, in that a lot of the money invested has gone into developing a site of some 70 acres, with leisure facilities, not just a football club, available to the whole community. The money hasn't just gone into the players' pockets.

So well done, Rushden. Wherever it is. I still can't find it on the map. And I'd never heard of Max Griggs until last weekend. But now he's sure of immortality. He is in my diary, oh yes, for ever. Just a shame I didn't have more space to write about him . . .

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 08 January 1999 issue of the New Statesman, Stuff the millennium